In 1984, the American industrialist and entrepreneur H. Charles Grawemeyer (1912–1993), a chemist and engineer by trade, like Alfred Nobel, his senior by eighty years, set up a foundation with a capital of nine million dollars to award prizes. The laureates were to be selected by Louisville University, of which Grawemeyer was a graduate. Today, that prize is awarded in five categories, but in 1985 only one was presented, in composition, with Witold Lutosławski distinguished for his Third Symphony.
The sum of 150,000 dollars that came with the diploma made the Grawemeyer Award the richest given to a musician in the world. In his acceptance speech, Lutosławski informed those assembled that he was allocating the entire sum to create a grant fund for young Polish composers, wishing to enable them to pursue post-graduate studies abroad.
The following year, the composer was asked to take part in the work of the jury selecting the next award-winner and to write a fanfare for the next presentation ceremony. Thus on 19 September 1986, a rendition of the Fanfare for University of Louisville closed the ceremony in which György Ligeti received the Grawemeyer Award for his first book of six Piano Etudes. The last piece in that set is entitled ‘Automne à Varsovie’, which was an allusion to the Warsaw Autumn festival, dedicated to the award-winner’s ‘Polish friends’, who included Lutosławski.